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Living in Singapore: Housing Policies between Nation Building Processes, Social Control and the Market

Abstract : Housing policies have been at the very core of the national ideology of Singapore since the time of independence in 1965. The task of providing a flat to citizens and permanent residents thanks to the efforts of a public institution has not only been one of pragmatic realism, or an aspect of the application of economic theories pertaining to the sphere of developmentalism, it also constituted a central feature in the collective project of a City-State in which social engineering was conceived as a global duty of the ruling party and comprised various aspects of the organization of everyday life, from urban planning to housing or from education to leisure and civic engagement. With about 80% of the population (5.5 million inhabitants in 2015) housed in flats built by the Housing and Development Board ( HDB), Singapore remains in 2015, in spite of the recent diversification of the housing market, one of the cities in the world in which the share of population housed in publicly built estates is the highest. 95% of the inhabitants of Singapore that are housed in such HDB flats, though, own them on a 99-year lease agreement. In the stronghold of capitalism in South-East Asia, social housing was conceived, since the time of independence, as a way to reinforce private property and the familial values that are attached to it. The object of the present paper is to analyze the evolution of this ideology of social housing in Singapore from the moment of the invention of the HDB as an instrument of national development and social balance to the period of the necessary adaptation of this heritage to the new needs that emerged twenty years after independence and up to more recent challenges posed by the concurrence of alternative models and social imaginaries of housing, such as those embodied by condominiums.
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Denis Bocquet. Living in Singapore: Housing Policies between Nation Building Processes, Social Control and the Market. Territorio, 2015, Domesticating East Asian Cities (guest edited by Filippo De Pieri and Michele Bonino), pp.35-43. ⟨10.3280/TR2015-074006⟩. ⟨hal-01224147⟩

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